Friday, January 30, 2009

The S Words

ADHDMe gave us an offer we couldn't refuse.... We're playing the "Assign me a letter and then I'll write 10 things I love beginning with that letter" game.

So, without further delayed school openings....

10 Things I Love That Begin With The Letter "S".

1. SCHOOL—It makes everyone's day so much brighter when it's in session. I spent 17 years in school and continue to grow, study and learn every day. It's a good thing!

2. SEWING—In today's tough economic times, when I could be going to myriad close-out sales, I choose, instead, to triple-patch my holey jeans at my sewing machine. I'm making a door "pillow" to keep out the frosty air we've been experiencing lately. Extra button holes, to make a CJ blouse wearable at school. Elastic ties to keep the cover on the faux Pottery Barn Teen lounging sofa. And, eventually, I'll finish those chairs for my sister. (I know, I said those would be first on the list after Christmas. I was sew wrong! It's too cold to sit outside anyway....)

3. SUCCULENTS—Sedums, really. Not so much cacti. Plants that can actually grow in central Virginia and look really unique. (So not my garden....)

4. SLEEP—What's that? I don't know, but I remember enjoying it when I was a teenager. I understand this makes a resurgence later in life. (I'm glad it's not later, yet.) [Alt: Silence—What's that??]

5. SANCTUARY—There are lots of them, actually. My church's sanctuary is where the bell choir I direct practices. I enjoy the quiet of setting up and the joyful sound that comes later that same evening as we ring together, laugh together, share together and enjoy what it means to be called together. Bird and wildlife sanctuaries....places to go, respect the silence, and marvel at creation within the creation. Sanctuary within.... Sanctuary for God.

Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary
Pure and holy, tried and true
With thanksgiving, I'll be a living
Sanctuary for You

6. SANDY BEACH AT THE SEASHORE. Pretty self-explanatory. A SCOOP of ice cream would go well with that.

7. SELF-IMPROVEMENT—Now, don't get scared. I don't have a nightstand full of self-help books. That's not what this means. But, I do have built in the drive to improve the self that I have, in some respect. Sometimes, I need a book, if not THE book, to help. Sometimes, I just need to actually DO something. It goes along with school....

8. SNOW—See the post before this one. I do love a great snowfall. I lived in Chicago for some 14 years; college+ in Upstate New York; not to mention most of the rest of my life in the middle Atlantic region. I've seen myself some snow! Now, I have to make my own. (sigh!)

9. SIDE DISHES, like SPUDS—As much as I enjoy a loin of pork or filet of beef, if you gave me the option to order "all sides," I'd be asking, "How many?" One of my favorite culinary experiences was dining out at the Amish family style restaurants in Pennsylvania. All the sides you could think of and as much as you wanted of any of them (with SHOO fly pie for dessert!)

10. SISTERS—I have 3, and they are the greatest; two sisters-in-law, and they are wonderfully talented; and many, many other sisters without whom it would be difficult to make something of anything, much less today.

So many substantive S's.
(And then there were things like squid, salmonella and sphygmometer.... So not Sue J.)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Partyin' in a Winter Wonderland

When it snows

Ain't it thrillin'
Though your nose
Gets a chillin'

We'll frolic and play the eskimo way
Partyin' in a Winter Wonderland!

It's a January tradition that our county's school board designates teacher training opportunities at the end of the month, giving the kids a long weekend. Coming off two weeks of vacation at Christmas, this is a time-off luxury!

For us stay-at-home moms, however, it's an extra day and a half off with the kids and a weekend in between. We love you, but.... It's winter time, and we don't do marathon TV/Computer/Game time.
How do you keep them from clinging to you all day, "with nothing to do....."?

So, we decided to turn some of that time off into a party—a Winter Wonderland Celebration! A playdate with good friends, lots of crafts, winter-themed snacks and air hockey. AND, PJs for all! We had a (snow) ball, and God blessed us with just enough real flakes to set the tone!!

We pulled out (more accurately, left out from Christmas) all our snowmen. We made new snowflakes. (CJ's recycled snowflake tree—left—made a nice backdrop in the kitchen. I tackled the front entryway, right.) CJ also made shaved ice and shaped a snowman out of it for our luncheon centerpiece. (Blue raspberry flavoring—how seasonal!)

The guests arrived—our dear friend Chatty Kelly, GiGi and CiCi; and the M Family, including Mrs. M., JM, KM and TM. Unfortunately, the Patterson 4 could not make it due to illness in the youngest. (But, she was feeling much better by the end of the day, and for that, we were grateful!)

After a few rounds of air hockey (boy, a timer comes in handy!), we dove into the crafts.

We started with a mitten swag (see top of window). Hands were traced. Mitten tracings were colored as desired. Then we hung them up with some recycled snowman Christmas cards. We're going to hold onto the swag until next year's party (already planning a next year's party!) and see if hands have grown. We also made foam sticker snowflakes, which later were tacked on to the kids' take-home treat containers (which had a delicious chocolate "snowball" or Oreo ball—thanks for the inspiration Mrs. P. and Shelley C.).

We did two food crafts. Mrs. M. brought goodies to make the edible snowmen from the most recent Family Fun magazine. Banana bodies with apple/grape hats, carrot noses and mini chocolate chips for....well....anywhere else! Yummy!! (This was one of GiGi's—adorable, yes!?) We also made homemade peppermint snowballs or snowmen or mini mountains of snow.

The last craft was a tricky one in that it was super-repetitive. But, the kids with tenacity stuck it out and finished it. The rest got help from us moms, or homework. "Snow on a stick", for lack of a better phrase, allowed each child to bring the wintry white home to their window. (Who knew office labels stuck back-to-back on embroidery floss could create such a scene!? See Jeffrey Rudell's submission to CraftStylish, featured here, though we used pearlized embroidery floss instead of the dental variety and a slightly smaller label flake.)

Had to throw in an organized game, too. (I really wasn't up for whacking a snowman pinata in the garage....not this year, anyway.) This activity ended up not having a name on which everyone could agree. So, we'll use Chatty Kelly's thought: Pin the Accessories on the Snowman. First, they—the three under five—had to make the snowman. Eyes closed, of course. The older ones donned the blindfold (a scarf, naturally) and stuck the accessories on him. We all decided that it was a rather blustery snowstorm that caused our snowman to bend the way he did. (Either that or he's quite the break-dancer.)

The party went on well through lunch (with ice cream snowmen for dessert!), and everyone left full of sweets and memories. As CJ predicted early on, some would later get tired from all the fun (i.e., cranky, fill in your favorite adjective). But, all in all, in the words of the M Family, "It was the best day off ever!"

So, our recycled snowman (lead photo), which was made out of a large pretzel jug and a coffee can, is now serving as a time machine of sorts. (Yes, his hat comes off, revealing the lid to the jug.) We'll hold onto the swag, the party ideas and even a copy of this very blog entry in there—then put the whole thing into cold storage until January 2010!

Meantime, it's definitely not too late to host your own "wintry mix."

A beautiful sight
We're happy tonight
Partyin' in a Winter Wonderland!

Friday, January 16, 2009

Picture Tag!

I've been tagged by Mrs. Patterson 5 to play Picture Tag.
The instructions are to go to your picture files,
pick the fourth folder
and the fourth picture in that folder
and explain it!

I'm not sure my 4x4 photo could be any more boring. But, of course, every photo has a story, and this one does, too.

This is a picture of RJ2's bedroom, except that there was no RJ2 at the time and we did not yet own the bedroom! It's from our househunting trip that we did back in early 2001 in our plans to leave the Chicago area to move to central Virginia.

A not-even-two-yet CJ and I flew out to check out the area and to see if the house we previewed through the digital photos and Internet was where we wanted to live. The owner was home at the time. I remember her being desperate to move. She also said something about this not being a kid house (If she didn't actually say that, then she said it through our Realtor).

Anyhow, CJ was hanging out with one of my sisters, looking at the rooms upstairs. I remember her finding a chess set that the owner still had out—in this room! I was a wreck in thinking that CJ would get out of control and that our visit would be cut short. (I owed my sister big for that visit. She couldn't even stay long because her hubby was rushed to the ER with a soccer injury!)

So, long story short—My brother-in-law was OK. We bought the house. CJ grew up. RJ2 came a number of years later. And she's very happy with her room!

Join in if you wish!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

My girls gave some very special presents for Christmas this year. Had to share....

RJ2 is very proud of her birdhouse. She doesn't like to color, but she does like to paint (and glue, apparently!).

CJ got so frustrated toward Christmas because she couldn't come up with a gift for me. After a knockdown/drag-out with me (long since forgotten now), she managed to create "the perfect gift."

"If your kids ever said something bad about yourself, look at this board to make you feel better." (Funny how she managed to come up with this after our spat....)

"Your hair looks so pretty and shiny." (If only it DID look like this....)

"You are a great blogger." ("And why haven't you posted any of my stuff lately?!")

"I have never known anyone with a bigger love of coffee than you AND THAT IS A COMPLIMENT!" (It is?!....Cool!)

"You are great at playing bells."
"You are so good at baking."
"Your gardening is awesome!"

Doesn't everyone need a Bad Day Board? It's even on brown recycled cardboard.

What's not to love?

Friday, January 9, 2009

Walking in a ....

It's hard to come back to central Virginia's greenish brown when you've delighted in the crisp whiteness of a Winter Wonderland.

(Took RJ2 a little while to master that alliterative lyric!)

Even harder to come back to posting! In fact, we're aiming for once a week for awhile....

Don't like resolutions, but do want to capitalize on my renewed energy to Clean up (and out)! Straighten up! Finish up! And otherwise maintain.... All that would be something new!

Here's to making something of today in 2009!

We're back....